Form v Narrative

Like other art forms, film or literature or comics, fashion is a balance of both form and narrative. Obviously fashion adds function to the mix (we wear this stuff right?), but we'll ignore that element for the time being. I've already discussed on this blog how Japonisme is so hot right now, but how designers utilize this influence varies wildly, and can have a lot to do with whether the story or the form is the driving factor. Prada Spring 2013 was about the woman, somewhat of an enigma as usual, a feminist, and a Murakami heroine in spirit whose personalities were expounded on in the campaign video (which I am still watching because I am sure I am still missing something). On the other hand we have The Row, which often looks to Japan, but the Winter 2013 collection was restricted to exploring the formal properties of Japanese dress, reconstructed for the Upper East Side sensibility.

In fact The Row weren't the only ones feelin' form, Winter 2013 was a veritable feast of collections which celebrated only that which could be seen. The clothes existed on purely physical, touchable and gazeable terms, and how gloriously they did. And for a city that, in general, usually bores me, Milan did exceptionally well.

How often does MaxMara grab any critic's attention? But this season they were a mega player. The genius of MaxMara lay in the pure pleasure of browns and black and gold mixed together, of layers upon layers of fur and satin and what appeared to be luxurious polar fleece. All high concepts were absent, background stories replaced with absolute mountains of fabric draped off the body. To look through the slide show of the MaxMara collection is to feel satisfied, gratified. I can only imagine what it would have been like to see the clothes in person.

Then we had the Giambattista Valli and Francesco Scognamiglio collections which were explorations into white, fur, and white fur. I mean this stuff is the opposite of Prada, and Louis Vuitton, in the best way possible.

But if one had to pick a champion of the gloriously constructed, the absolutely straightforward, the resolutely beautiful, Hermes was it. This is a bold claim, but I'm willing to back it up.

Exhibit A: a perfect navy suit was shown not once, but six times. Here are three. When was the last time I saw a pant suit executed perfectly? I cannot remember. Maybe it was with Yves Saint Laurent, but I was not  alive then.

Exhibit B: note the subtly exact use of colour. No shade of brown or browny green was shown twice, yet as a whole the collection's palette was wonderfully coherent. Side Note: even the navy suits didn't all use the same shade of navy.

Exhibit C: a part from the piping, and perfect drape, what unites these looks is that I sigh when I see them. Can I look at them forever? For once the real life clothes are as elegant as their sketches.

all images from vogue.com

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